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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


For The Record - 49ers OG Aaron Banks

Justin Wong
May 10, 2021 at 6:44 PM2


While NFL Draft pundits and fans alike can give instant reactions to their team's player selections, it's easy to forget that the true value of the picks cannot be fully assessed until after a couple of seasons. Some players become instant starters (Nick Bosa), while others remain works in progress (Javon Kinlaw). Having said that, I want to pull out the receipts on what draft analysts were saying prior to the draft, along with their player comparisons. With the 2021 NFL Draft now in the books, let's review what various scouting outlets were saying about the 49ers' draft picks in this mini-series, "For The Record". The San Francisco 49ers traded the 43rd and 230th picks to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for the 48th and 121st picks. In short, they moved down five spots in the second round, while picking up a fourth-round pick to select interior offensive lineman Aaron Banks out of Notre Dame.


NFL Player Comparison: Gabe Jackson

Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes Banks for his "massive size and brawling strength" in his 2021 NFL Draft Guide:

Banks displays the body girth, brute strength and physical attitude to take up space and anchor, making him a hard guy to move. He isn't the most dynamic athlete among the offensive line prospects, but he isn't a slug and has some mobility to his game. Overall, Banks needs to mature his hand placement and body posture to match up with NFL defenders, but he has the massive size and brawling strength to be a square-dominating blocker and potential starter.

NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein believes banks should be "fine as a potential early starter."

Mass of humanity who's able to cast his frame upon opponents and win with pure size at times. Banks can get a little lax with certain elements of technique and footwork but tends to counter that with his frame and strength. His core and base are rock-steady, as he's rarely jostled by contact. He can create momentum with his size as a run blocker, but he's not a great bender and lacks explosiveness into contact. Pass protection will get a little choppy against athletic interior rushers and twist games that force him to make quick slides to cut off his edges, but he has the anchor to stall bull rushers all day long. Banks has some physical limitations but should be fine as a potential early starter and Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) pick for a physical running game.

ESPN Scout Inc.'s draft profile of Banks gave him a 73 grade for being "very technically sound."

Banks has good height and is a wide-bodied guard with very good length for the position. He's very technically sound, takes great angles and establishes good initial positioning as a run blocker. He also does a very good job with his hand placement. He's not an overpowering run blocker, and he doesn't drive defenders off the line. In pass protection, he has good length and hands. However, he isn't nearly as stout against power rushers as his frame would indicate.

Pro Football Focus was not surprised to see the 49ers address their offensive line but were rather surprised with the actual selection of Banks during their live analysis of the 2021 NFL Draft:

It's not surprising to see the 49ers address the interior offensive line, but it is a little bit of a surprise to see Banks as the target. Banks is coming off a well-rounded 2020 season at Notre Dame in 2020 with 80-plus PFF grades both as a pass-protector and run-blocker. However, physical and athletic limitations kept him outside the top 100 on PFF's Big Board, and they make him an interesting fit in San Francisco's offense.

When a team drafts a quarterback in the first round, it often pairs him up with an offensive lineman to further aid the development of its young signal-caller. The Jaguars drafted Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little in the second round, while the Jets traded up for versatile USC lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. The 49ers followed suit by pairing Trey Lance with a massive interior lineman in Banks.

Given the track record of 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, this is a surprising selection for a variety of reasons. The 49ers never invest premium draft capital in their interior offensive linemen, but rather get by with value-add acquisitions (Laken Tomlinson) and draft finds (Daniel Brunskill, Colton McKivitz). Secondly, the 49ers are well known for their zone blocking scheme, which typically features lighter, athletic offensive linemen to move up the field. A local Bay Area native from my hometown in Alameda, Banks is a massive human being at 6'5" and 325 lbs.


Despite his massive size, Banks graded well on zone blocking plays during his time at Notre Dame. Per Pro Football Focus, he actually graded better on zone blocking plays (87.2) than on gap (64.7) plays, which suggests that the 49ers believe his athleticism is good enough. Banks comes with an impressive resume, having allowed only two sacks over 844 snaps last season at Notre Dame. It's a shift in draft philosophy for Lynch, but given the team's recent struggles along the interior line, perhaps it was time.

From a value perspective, most draft experts had him pegged as a third-round grade so it might take some time for 49ers fans to warm up to him. Given his high draft stature, I would expect Banks to compete with Brunskill and McKivitz for the starting right guard spot, for which he should ultimately win the job. The right side of the line would theoretically feature Banks and another Notre Dame Fighting Irish alum in former college teammate Mike McGlinchy at right tackle.
  • Justin Wong
  • Written by:
    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Mood Indigo
    "From a value perspective, most draft experts had him pegged as a third-round grade so it might take some time for 49ers fans to warm up to him." This is a weird comment. So Nineer fans are expected to trust the evaluations of some random self-appointed draft gurus' eval of players' value over those of the Niners coaches and front office staff whose experienced scouts and have studied these players for a year?
    May 11, 2021 at 7:54 AM
    0
    Response: See Mac Jones
  • JimmyJump
    What's up wit this writer all he does is copy and paste from common websites off a Google search
    May 10, 2021 at 7:20 PM
    2
    Response: I mean, that is the "For the Record" prompt + analysis

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